My dad never cared about Father’s Day. He didn’t buy into the whole commercial-forced-love bit because he thought buying gifts on a random day didn’t carry any true significance. He never craved gifts on his birthday either. He didn’t place much attachment on material objects, although, he carried a deep love for nice pens and a decent piece of stationery.

I recognized his neutrality about Father’s Day. But for whatever reason, on the week or days before Father’s Day, I felt compelled to drive to the grocery store and stand in front of the array of Hallmark cards, staring and wishing that the right greeting would magically appear. I never landed on the right card, but picked and signed my name to a card with the words, love, Rudri. I’d hand deliver (when I was in town) the card and say, “Happy Father’s Day!” and he almost always responded with, “Thanks, but you don’t have to buy me a card.” I responded with, “I know, Dad, I wanted to get something for you.” We typically had dinner at home or drove to his favorite pizza place (which incidentally does’t exist anymore either).

All those years ago, I took for granted the simple pleasure of buying my father a card. On a recent trip to the grocery store, I saw the card aisle, where people clamored around the various greetings like bees buzzing at a hive. I heard a couple of people say, “I don’t think this is the right one,” or alternatively, “This is the perfect card. He will love it.” I paused and stared, my eyes stalking these strangers, while my insides revisited my past. Long ago, I stood where they stood. My father was alive too and everything seem right and ok and normal.

Now, I not only miss buying cards that he didn’t really expect, but I MISS him. I’ve heard many times the grief gets easier with each passing day, but I am not certain the ache of a losing a parent evaporates in any real way. Early on the grief manifested with tears streaming down my face, but now, I internalize how much I wish he was still here. I couldn’t even bring myself to post anything about him on social media yesterday because the act of doing so meant drudging up another Father’s Day without him. My 8th one.

After he passed, I took on the task of cleaning his desk. He loved collecting paperwork, often saving receipts, “in case he might need them,” ignoring the fact the paperwork was almost a decade old. I chunked several pieces of miscellaneous pages in a recycle bin and underneath all of these old receipts and warranty paperwork, I discovered a stack of cards, with a sturdy rubber band keeping them together. On first glance, I hesitated looking at these cards because I didn’t want to intrude on my father’s privacy. The lettering on the pieces of paper look familiar as if I saw them once before. Turns out, I had.

My dad kept every single Father’s Day card I gave him.